It was supposed to be a simple dinner, old friends, new friends, a chance to relax. Somehow it turned into a grand dinner, and I didn’t realize how grand until Elaine e-mailed me. What a dinner! What a night!
E-mail from Elaine Tin Nyo:
I had dinner tonight at Jude and Jeff’s.
Guests included Wil, Andrew, Deborah and Andrew and Deborah’s new kitten, Mouse.
made a lovely dinner of shortribs braised with tomatoes and scented
with bayleaves, rosemary and cinnamon, along with sauteed green beans,
and Lebanese couscous with citrus rind and a bit of olive oil.
We drank Montepulciano d’abruzzo.
Delicous! We were feeling no pain.
Wil pulled out his cheese board and gave us a tour. Petite Billy from
Bretonny. Constant Bliss from Jasper Hill (VT), a dry, nutty,
washed-rind sheep milk cheese from Catalonia, another cheese with a
yellowish rind from the lichen in the diet of the Corsican sheep, and
finally a Blue from Oregon with malty overtones. We talk about the
various ways a rind is developed. Jude had made a crusty, round loaf of
native yeast bread (deriving a yeast mother from the Soho air). Now,
fully educate by Wil, we had our way with the cheeses, and we became
Early in the evening there had been talk about a treehouse
of epic proportions built by an army of friends for their now grown
son. It was designed by a ship builder on stilts so it could sway with
the trees it was build among. One get’s the feeling there is always
more than enough at Jude and Jeff’s table (in every way). And I am
enthralled to them for their open hearts and humor because that
nourishes me most. I love everyone and every cat at that perfect
moment. And then Jude serves the salad of baby arugula, oranges and
shaved fennel and we punch through to a higher plane. Someone is
sharing stories about almost killing his then five year old son in a
kayak. We are talking about the art of affinage. How Pecorino is
originally Sardinian. I am convinced and bullied that I might learn to
ski in Snowbird this winter. And then Wil who has been standing at the
kitchen counter puts a spatula in my face and I lick it. My mouth is
filled with buttercream with bits of praline. He has been
desserts from Blackhound pattiserie. Suddenly there is a sea of
desserts (lots of buttercream and chocolate and raspberries and
strawberries) on the table now, along with fresh mangos. After a
mouthful of each, I surrender, "I have officially had too much sugar.
One more bite and I will be running with scissors." That is when Wil
confides about hanging out with the nuns during after school detention.
Nuns without their habits on.
There are pictures of Jude and Jeff’s
house in Umbria. How can I not visit them this summer? By now Mouse is
exhausted from a night of climbing new furniture and stalking the two
Abbyssinians. And we say our "so-longs."
Here, 140 blocks north, I
am in recovery. The skin is stretched tight against my belly. I can
thump it like a watermelon. What delicious discomfort.